Notre Dame Football 2010: Dayne Crist Watch

Collin O'Connor@@BarkofhinklehhrCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2010

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 11: Dayne Crist #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish looks for a receiver in the 4th quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 11, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Michigan defeated Notre Dame 28-24. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

One of the key elements coming into this season for Notre Dame was the play of first year starting quarterback Dayne Crist.

Coming into South Bend, Crist was a highly sought after recruit and one of the top quarterbacks in his class.

After sitting behind Jimmy Clausen for two years, this season was his first chance to step onto the field.

In his first career start against Purdue, Crist showed flashes of the player everyone expected him to be by throwing for over 200 yards, completing 19 of 26 passes and throwing for a touchdown.

Perhaps the most important statistic though was zero interceptions. Seeing a young quarterback composed and taking care of the ball was a great sign for Notre Dame.

In game two against Michigan, Crist lead a beautiful drive down the field in the first series, but missed the rest of the first half with an eye injury. The team just wasn't the same without him.

He did, however, come back in the second half and put them in a position to win. He completed the comeback on a long touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph, and put them back in the lead. His 277 yards and 2 touchdowns weren't enough though, as Michigan came away with the win.

Whether it was a lack of talented backup quarterbacks or the simple importance of Crist's presence, his absence showed everyone how much he is needed. In some of my earlier work, I compared Notre Dame's performance against Michigan without Crist to the Indianapolis Colts' performance without Peyton Manning.

Last week against Michigan State, Crist turned in his best performance yet.

Brian Kelly felt comfortable enough to give him the opportunity to throw 55 times. Crist responded by completing 32 of those passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns.

The entire country saw Dayne Crist grow before their eyes.

This week will be no different. As the year goes on, Crist will continue to get better and better.  His performance will determine how successful this team can be.

If he performs like he did last week, Notre Dame can come away with a victory over ranked opponent Stanford.

While the game is progressing, some items to watch for are his completion percentage and turnovers.  If he can complete around 50 to 60 percent of his passes and avoid turning the ball over, this is definitely Notre Dame's game to win.

With the Irish rebuilding this season, the biggest thing to watch for is the play of Dayne Crist.


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